Europa Nostra joins Democracy Alive Brussels Summit countering the rise of authoritarianism in Europe

The Democracy Alive Brussels Summit was organised on 6 June by the European Movement International, of which Europa Nostra is a member, turning the spotlight on the state of democracy in Europe and threats faced by the EU. The one-day summit brought together political leaders, policymakers, academics, social partners, NGOs, and civil society. The Secretary General of Europa Nostra, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, participated in the event.

The conversation took place at a critical time for democracy in Europe. Already 16 months have passed since Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine. The current rise of far-right movements is putting our values and unity further at stake. With a year to go to the EU elections in 2024, promoting and protecting our democracy is more important than ever.

The Secretary General of Europa Nostra participated in a panel on the rise of authoritarianism in Europe and beyond. “Cultural heritage is the foundation of the European project. Yet authoritarian regimes are using and abusing culture and cultural heritage to divide us. From leaders to civil society, we ought to be bolder about what Europe stands for. The EU has the power, leverage, and positioning to support those who are fighting for the values and survival of Europe as a whole“, she stated.

Daniel Freund, MEP, Greens/EFA; Tom Hanney, H.E. Ambassador, Irish Permanent Representative to the EU; Paulina Kieszkowska-Knapik, Member of the Warsaw Bar; and Camino Mortera-Martinez, Head of the Brussels office, Centre for European Reform, also participated in the discussion.

The panel was followed by a powerful keynote speech by Vera Jourova, Vice-President for Values and Transparency at the European Commission: “There are many things that should not be ideologically neutral. We need courage to promote our ideals and values, and sometimes we must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, not the victim, and it’s time to take the right side of history”.

Debates also focused on how we can build an alliance to defend democracy and freedom and what must be done to counter disinformation. The event wrapped up with a session on what the European Union can and must do to strengthen democracy and ensure the resilience of the European project.

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